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Educational institutions successful at retaining students after childbirth find that establishing campus-wide lactation stations are a worthwhile investment.
Of utmost importance to breastfeeding women when returning to school is finding a convenient, comfortable, and safe place to pump milk. Pumping at school allows moms to continue to feed their babies breastmilk while also maintaining their supply. If a new mother does not have access to a “lactation station,” she is more likely to miss classes or drop out of school.
The new lactation stations at CNM will improve graduation rates, resulting in New Mexico being more competitive when recruiting future employers and creating the jobs of tomorrow.
The major health organizations recommend that babies receive only breastmilk for the first 6 months and continue receiving breastmilk throughout the first 1-2 years. This is not only good for the health of mother and baby, but also is associated with lower healthcare costs statewide.
For example, babies who are not breastfed are more likely to be diagnosed with type II diabetes as adults. A National Institutes of Health study conducted with the Gila River Pima Indian Community showed that breastfeeding for two months or longer, is associated with a 40% risk reduction for the baby developing diabetes by age 40.
Each year in New Mexico the total healthcare costs for diabetes averages $1.36 bil (NMDOH, 2010). If every New Mexican baby (instead of the current 51.8% who were breastfed at all and the 14.9% who were exclusively breastfed) was breastfed for 2 months or longer that could result in annual savings of more than $270 mil statewide.
The New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force praises Jennifer Cornish and Chioma Heim’s efforts in establishing lactation stations across CNM campuses to support their students. The NMBTF calls on all educational institutions throughout New Mexico to follow CNM’s lead to support their students- this is good for student-moms, babies, and the state as a whole.
Cindy Chavez, MPH, IBCLC, State Coordinator New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force
Lissa Knudsen, MPH, NM Breastfeeding Task Force Baby Friendly Project Coordinator